Or maybe because I got more than 3.4 minutes of sleep last night.
But whatever the reason, this morning, I broke an 11-minute mile. In the direct sun. At 72 degrees. WOO HOO.
After managing to get about seven and a half hours of sleep last night, I'd like to say I woke up raring to go. But not so much. I was certainly better rested, and motivated to run when I realized that in thirty minutes this morning, the temperature rose from 66 to 72 degrees. I knew it was going to be a hot day (and in fact, it's about 95 right now), and I definitely wanted to get my run in before it got too bad out there. I had a little bit of an unsettled stomach when I woke up and a leftover headache from last night, so I popped a couple of Advil and stuck to my blueberry waffle plan. My goal for today was to run 3.4 miles in less than 38 minutes - yes, I know that seems to be my goal a lot lately, but I KNOW I can make myself run faster.
As I started running, my body felt pretty good. My muscles were tired, but no real pain anywhere. Yoga definitely helped last night and I learned an important lesson - although I could tell that my legs were stronger when I did lower body yoga last week, doing a PM yoga workout last night showed me that my leg muscles are too tight. I can normally touch my heels to the ground when doing downward dog, but last night they were definitely a inch or two above ground. So I really do have to do more yoga, even (and maybe especially) on running days. I know I've said that before, but because I really pride myself on being pretty flexible, I really mean it this time - I've got to get my legs stretched out!
I gave myself the first mile to feel tired, but despite the muscle fatigue, I still pushed myself to run faster than I have been. I kept thinking about something Coach J had said on Saturday night - he was talking about his own race, but said that he had to remember that pain doesn't always mean you have to slow down and he should trust in his training. I think sometimes that I'm too afraid of having to stop early in a run and walk, so I don't push myself as hard as I could. It's safer that way, and I know I can finish a longer run then, but I'll never move forward if I don't. I've got to trust my body and my training. Plus, it reminds me of something Liz Waterstraat said that if you push yourself and you fail, then you're not ready and you can adjust. But if you don't push yourself, you never know what you're capable of. I definitely want to move forward, so I guess I have to keep pushing myself! And here, I thought running period was going to be enough...
I also read a blog post last night about running in the heat, and the author said he likes to run when it's hot, because he knows that if he can do it, he'll have great runs when it's cooler. It was definitely hot and humid this morning, but my lungs were feeling a bit more open today and I knew I'd have to run faster the entire 3.4 miles to cut my time down (obviously). I can officially say that the day when I miss the wind has arrived - there was only the barest of breezes blowing every ten minutes or so (which may have been from trucks passing me) and I was wondering where my strong breezes were hiding! But if I could run faster in the direct sun, at the warmest temperature I've ever run at, with no breeze, then I can definitely have great runs when it's cooler!
As I passed a few of my landmarks, I was hoping that I would to finish about a minute ahead of my usual time. But as I passed the little beach by my house, the sun's strength really started to kick in, and I revised my goal to just running the entire 3.4 miles (I give up so easy, don't I?). I didn't slow down, but I told myself that I wasn't going to feel guilty if I didn't finish in less than 38 minutes.
You might think that running by the water is ideal on a hot day, because of a lovely bay breeze. But today, you would be wrong. Not only was there no breeze, but the sun was reflected in the water and it's power magnified, so it was as if two suns were shining on me as I ran. It felt SO much hotter than 72 degrees. This made me very sad, because I realized that I'll have to actually get up early to run. Like before 7am early. Crap.
But anyway, I made it down to my turn-around marker and headed back. I still felt pretty good, but could feel myself wearing out a bit. After I passed about two and a half miles, I had to slow down a fraction just to give myself enough of a break to keep going (and keep the air coming into my lungs). My mind really wanted me to slow down more, but a favorite phrase of the Marines popped into my head - "Pain is weakness leaving the body." Then I thought about what the Marines would do to me if they saw me running, and that made me laugh a little. Even though I know I would never survive a Marine Corps boot camp, I could at least run a little bit faster on a warm morning!
I was still checking my landmarks, and thought there was a slim possibility that I'd finish a minute earlier than usual. Coming into the last three blocks though, I knew it for a fact. I pushed myself as fast as I could go and managed to squeak out 3.41 miles in 36:25. Unfortunately, a group of about eight or nine young kids were waiting for the school bus right at the finish line of my run, so when I abruptly switched to walking, panting, and holding my side, I'm sure I scared them all into never wanting to run again. Gotta love an audience.
As I dragged myself back home, all I could think about was lying down on the cool tile floor in my entryway. I felt like I was on fire from the inside (it also didn't help that the sunburn on my back seemed to be a magnet for the sun, despite being covered with a tee shirt). So I made the executive decision to turn on the air conditioning and drink a big glass of cold water. I know I'm supposed to have some protein right after a run, but I felt sick enough that I couldn't even picture drinking a glass of milk. Fortunately, Special K puts out a protein water mix, with five grams of protein in it, so I thought that would be at least a little bit of protein. Being so overheated and tired, it tasted like the best water ever. Plus, I felt GREAT because I'd pushed myself and finished in under 38 minutes - two full minutes faster than my time on Saturday! Totally wiped out, sweat pouring off of me, but GREAT.
After plugging my run into mapmyrun.com, and wondering how it could possibily think that I was running a slower mile today than on Saturday, I decided to do some of my own math to figure out what my times have been like lately. Turns out algebra does come in handy in real life...darn! But it turned out to be a pretty rewarding exercise, since other than Saturday morning, I've gradually been decreasing my per mile time every time I run in the past two weeks! My first recorded run on mapmyrun.com (and I'm only looking at runs recorded there, since apparently I used to think I was running a lot further than I actually was!) was on 4/13, and then I didn't record a run until 4/21 (though I did run during those in between days). So it looks like this:
4/13 - 11:17 minute/mile
4/21 - 11:11 minute/mile
4/23 - 11:09 minute/mile
4/25 - 11: 16 minute/mile
4/27 - 10:41 minute/mile*
*see, that's where I broke 11 minutes! And not by a little bit either, but running 28 seconds faster per mile than the best time I had in that two week period!
I also checked my short run, which was definitely the best one ever - that was a 9:26 minute/mile. Holy cow! If you'll remember back to when I started this (or if you've recently looked at "why I'm running"), my fastest mile before starting this process was 12 minutes (probably more than 12 minutes, but 12 is the number I remember). So in about three months, I've shaved off almost three minutes. Which makes me feel pretty awesome!
Tomorrow is definitely an off day, though I will definitely be doing yoga (today too!). Then, I'm curious to see how my run will go on Wednesday - it will be my last long run before Saturday's 5k and it's supposed to be raining. But at least it will be cooler, so I'll be keeping a check on the weather to see if I need to be running at the crack of dawn or not!